New Orleans Saints
First-Round Pick: N/A
Best Pick: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson-Safety-Florida
The New Orleans Saints came into the 2019 National Football League Draft without that much draft capital due to their moving up in the first round of last year’s draft in order to select defensive end Marcus Davenport. This year New Orleans would only have five selections overall which included waiting to the middle of the second round to make their first choice.
The Saints were surprised to see center Max Unger retire and they found his replacement in the second round in former Texas A&M Aggies center Erik McCoy. Once McCoy was inserted into the Aggies starting lineup in 2016, he never came out, and now he’ll be expected to learn rather quick as he joins a team that has its sights on winning the Super Bowl for the upcoming season.
In the fourth round the Saints found a player in former Florida Gators safety Chauncey Garder-Johnson. Gardner-Johnson is a versatile defender who can multiple positions in the secondary which will make it hard for his coaches in New Orleans to keep him off the field as a rookie.
The Saints still have Drew Bress at quarterback, but being unable to add depth during this draft could come back to haunt them over the next few years.
First-Round Pick Brian Burns-Defensive End-Florida State
Best Pick: Brian Burns
For the second time in the last three years, the Carolina Panthers missed the playoffs, but this draft class can help to shortly put that to bed. Since the Panthers inception in 1995, they’ve always been a tough team to deal with in the trenches which is something that they got back to at this year’s National Football League Draft.
With the retirement of defensive end Julius Peppers, the Panthers needed an infusion of youth on their defensive line that could wreak havoc in regards to getting to the quarterback. And midway through the first round of the draft, the Panthers found the guy who they feel can bring the pain in former Florida State Seminoles defensive end Brian Burns. Burns was a first-team All-ACC member last year at Florida State as he combines a rare blend of speed and power which should allow him to be an impact player early on in Charlotte.
With Panthers quarterback Cam Newton having undergone shoulder surgery this past January, it is imperative for Carolina to protect him, and what better way to do that than to beef up the offensive line. In the second round Carolina would select former Ole Miss Rebels offensive tackle Greg Little. At 6’6″, 325 lbs., Little is a load and a road grader which is important for a Panthers teams that’ll be looking to get back to the basics this year which means a heavy dose of the running game in order to protect Newton.
Some people raised their eyebrows when the Panthers selected former West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier in the third due to the fact that Newton is entrenched as the franchise signal caller, but Grier was too good to pass on. Grier has a big arm, but he will be a developmental quarterback in Charlotte as his presence will give Carolina some insurance behind Newton.
The Panthers would spend the remaining portion of the draft beefing up the trenches on both sides of the football as their selections were not flashy, but they’ll be effective as players in the NFL.
First-Round Pick: Chris Lindstrom-Guard-Boston College, Kaleb McGary-Offensive Tackle-Washington
Best Pick: Round Five-Qadree Ollison-Running Back-Pittsburgh
Two years ago when the Atlanta Falcons made the Super Bowl, they did it with an offense that was one of the most prolific in the National Football League. Last season injuries took away from the Falcons effectiveness which is why they finished with a losing record for the first time in four years. But if this National Football League Draft was a sneak preview of the 2019 season for the Falcons, they’ll be getting back to the basics.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is still one of the best in the business at what he does, and Atlanta made sure to give him some more protection. The Falcons would use a first-round selection on former Boston College Eagles guard Chris Lindstrom who aside from being one of the best offensive linemen in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year, was also the best guard available coming into this draft process. At 6’4, 310 lbs., Lindstrom plays with a mean streak that will be a welcome addition to a Falcons offensive line that will be looking to get tougher this year.
But the Falcons were not done there in the first round as they would make a trade with the Los Angeles Rams to come back into the first round in order to select former Washington Huskies offensive tackle Kaleb McGary. McGary was a first-team All-Pac-12 performer in each of the last two years at Washington, and now he’ll be charged with making sure that Ryan’s uniform remains clean.
After losing running back Tevin Coleman in free agency, the Falcons found some fresh legs at the position when they used a fifth-round selection on former Pittsburgh Panthers running back Qadree Ollison. Ollison is a bruising ball carrier that gets better as the game goes along, as he’ll now be in a backfield splitting carries with Devonta Freeman.
Yes the Falcons missed out on the playoffs in 2018, but this team has the potential to be one of the most improved heading into next season with the draft being set to play a big part.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
First-Round Pick: Devin White-Middle Linebacker-LSU
Best Pick: Devin White
It’s 11 years and counting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in regards to their last venture into the postseason and a big reason for that has been the front office’s misses at the National Football League Draft. The Bucs have made some mistakes early on at the draft in recent years, but their new head coach Bruce Arians is attempting to change that as he shapes the team’s roster in his own image.
Tampa Bay was 27th in the National Football League in total defense last season as they were constantly pushed around by their opponents. Arians sought the need to get tougher on defense and he used the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft on former LSU Tigers middle linebacker Devin White.
White was an All-American last season at LSU as not only did he play on one of the top defenses in the nation, but he tackled everything that moved. The Bucs have lacked an impact player at linebacker for years and they are hopeful that White can not only fill a void with his play, but his leadership as well.
The Bucs were so focused on fixing their putrid defense that six of their eight picks in the draft were used on defensive players which included their first five selections. Arians is focused on making the Buccaneers a tougher and more competitive team on the defensive side of the football as they look to close the gap on the rest of the NFC South.